Paper Gossip: Steven Gerrard's Scare, Mikel's Threat, Wayne Rooney to Arsenal?
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It's the day after the night (and, er, day) before.
Saturday saw the long-awaited return of actual club football, with Gareth Bale leading the news agenda after making a goalscoring debut for Real Madrid following his world record £85 million transfer.
Bale is unlikely (some would say highly unlikely) to leave the Spanish club any time soon, but another goalscorer from Saturday's matches seemingly remains less certain about his future. Wayne Rooney helped Manchester United to a comfortable 2-0 win over 10-man Crystal Palace, but the newspapers seem adamant the headband-wearing one could yet move in January.
That and more rumours and stories from the Sunday papers are all collected together here.
So click on for all the major news...
Arsenal Ready to Use Mesut Ozil to Tempt £30m Wayne Rooney
The Daily Mail kicks off the action for us on Sunday, with chief reporter Rob Draper claiming that Arsenal will return with a £30m bid for Wayne Rooney in January.
Rooney looked pretty content during his 90 minutes against Crystal Palace on Saturday, but Draper reports that Arsenal still think they can attract the England international to the Emirates.
According to Draper, Arsene Wenger feels the presence of master provider Mesut Ozil will prove attractive to Rooney, along with the chance to be the main man again (after being overshadowed slightly by Robin van Persie at Old Trafford) at a top club:
Arsenal will test Manchester United’s resolve to keep Wayne Rooney in this January’s transfer window, with their spending ready to continue following their record £42m deal for Mesut Ozil.
Arsenal still have funds to make a bid of about £30m and the feeling at the club is that the signing of Ozil has indicated to Rooney, who scored on his surprise return from injury in Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace, that they have returned to being serious title contenders.
Arsenal certainly need another striker—Olivier Giroud apart, they have few viable options to lead the line—but the Frenchman's stellar start to the season (he now has four goals from four league games) might mean Wenger thinks twice about spending big again in the market.
Jon Obi Mikel 'Threatened to Break Mark Clattenburg's Legs'
The Sun (subscription needed) is serialising excerpts of former Premier League referee Mark Halsey's autobiography, with the first installment shedding light on the infamous saga surrounding Mark Clattenburg and Jon Obi Mikel.
In the excerpt, Halsey claims that Mikel threatened to break Clattenburg's legs and then tried to punch him after hearing accusations that the referee had called the Chelsea midfielder a "monkey"—accusations that were latter fully disproved.
As the Sun relates:
In extracts from his autobiography Halsey says that Mikel burst into the referees’ dressing room after the game and shouted: 'I’m going to break your legs. You called me a f***ing monkey.'
Halsey continues: 'He tried to land a punch on Mark but was pulled away by a combination of the then Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo and assistant Eddie Newton and Mark’s three fellow officials.'
According to Halsey: 'We [the top referees] were unhappy that Mikel’s behaviour had not been made public and we were not impressed by Chelsea’s feeble admission that they could have handled the situation better. We wanted a proper apology.'
Halsey, who has made a somewhat unremarkable start to life as a co-commentator for BT Sport ("Mark, did the referee get that decision right?" "Yes ... er, yes I think he did"), adds that the referees were proposing to boycott all Chelsea games—potentially causing untold trouble to Premier League fixture lists—until Clattenburg received a formal apology.
We were all, as a group of referees, speaking on the phone regularly ... and the mood was for a strike. At first it was just to refuse to officiate at Chelsea matches unless Mark got a proper apology. That action was not deemed feasible so we contemplated an all-out strike.
No strike came about. Expect more Halsey "revelations" in the coming days and weeks...
Steven Gerrard Threatened at Training by Crazed Fan
Sometimes it does not pay to stay after training to work on your free-kicks. The Daily Mail reports that Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was abused—and even subjected to a death threat—by a crazed fan at the club's Melwood training ground on Saturday.
The newspaper reports that Gerrard, who was practising dead-ball routines with Philippe Coutinho and Simon Mignolet, found himself being abused by an intruder, who had scaled the fence at Melwood to hurl insults at the England captain.
Covered in anti-vandal paint (having climbed the outside wall), the unidentified man reportedly threatened to burn Gerrard's house down.
At some point Gerrard had to be held back from confronting the "fan", who threatened to kill the midfielder before cycling away:
Gerrard started walking towards the man, who appeared to be in his late 30s or early 40s and was dressed in jeans and a dark zip-up jacket.
Liverpool assistant manager Colin Pascoe prevented Gerrard from going near the man and kit manager Lee Radcliffe ran from the pitch to go outside and confront the abuser.
As Radcliffe got closer, the man rode away on a bicycle with a parting shot aimed at Gerrard. ‘I’ll kill you and your kids,’ he yelled.
The club refused to comment on the reports on Saturday evening.
Tottenham Will Reopen Chequebook in January for Stephan El Shaarawy
If Arsenal think they can get Rooney in January, then Tottenham are ready for another big move of their own, it seems. The Sunday People reports that Andre Villas-Boas is monitoring the status of AC Milan forward Stephan El Shaarawy.
The 20-year-old El Shaarawy is one of the brightest prospects in Italian football, but his future has been subject to speculation for a number of months—with the deadline day return of Kaka likely preceding a change in tactics at Milan that could see El Shaarawy pushed towards the fringes.
If that happens, Dave Kidd believes Spurs will swoop for the crazy-haired one:
Despite the signing of Roberto Soldado, AVB has a hitlist of January striking targets which include 20-year-old Italy star El Shaarawy as well as Spain target man Fernando Llorente at Juventus.
Jermain Defoe is expected to move in January, while Emmanuel Adebayor has been frozen out by Villas-Boas.
AVB is willing to let Spurs misfit Adebayor go out on loan and reckons the big striker could do with games at Championship level to keep him sharp, with Harry Redknapp’s QPR interested.
El Sharaawy would cost at least £20million.
David Moyes Tells Ashley Young to Cut out the Diving
A number of newspapers are reporting David Moyes' anger at Ashley Young's dive against Crystal Palace.
Young, who has a reputation for diving, went down under pressure from Adrian Mariappa in the first half at Old Trafford—earning a yellow card from referee Jon Moss.
He later won a penalty following a separate challenge on the stroke of half-time.
Moyes, when asked about the first incident, made it clear to The Sunday Times (subscription required) he would not accept such conduct from his players:
I don’t like diving. He deserved to be booked if he dived.
I’ll say to Ash it’s not what I want. The Palace lad held his leg out but I think Ash put his leg into the Palace lad’s leg.
Mariappa might not appreciate being referred to twice as "the Palace lad", but it will be interesting to see whether Young curbs his behaviour better in future.
BREAKING: Ashley Young ruled out for the rest of the season. Falling Down....again! pic.twitter.com/nywA9ntgBQ— Paddy Power (@paddypower) April 19, 2013